“Smart” Cities

The city of Neuchâtel will host our next “Newcastles of the World” conference in 2020 when the main theme will be the “Smart City” – how best use of new technologies can make life better for our citizens. Previously, Neuchâtel had been the place where nearly 250 decision-makers from French-speaking towns and cantons were brought together to participate in the “Smart City Day”. This idea aims to simplify access to information and services, but also improve the efficiency of the city and the comfort of citizens, thanks to new technologies, and Neuchâtel is in the forefront of many of these developments.


Semi-transparent facade of the renovated CSEM building in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, which comprises bifacial silicon heterojunction solar cells that are interconnected using SmartWire Contacting Technology 




Read here an interesting blog from Evan Blake,  a researcher from South Africa, now based in Neuchâtel


For a picture of developments across Europe, this is an important document – https://www.smartcities-infosystem.eu/sites/default/files/document/the_making_of_a_smart_city_-_best_practices_across_europe.pdf


In the UK, Newcastle upon Tyne has the fastest growing digital sector outside London – see this document below



Back in Switzerland, here (in French but translated below) an interesting article:


What would be your definition of the ideal smart city?

Digitalization affects all the structures of our societies, especially the cities. This technological revolution has brought out the concept of “smart cities”, more efficient and more comfortable, for the well being of the citizen.

It is the creation of well-being for the citizen by minimizing resources through an intelligent combination of infrastructure and data.

Describe this smart city?

Each city and territory has its specificities. The expectations of Lausanne, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Sion, Friborg are different, as for more rural or alpine towns, more oriented agriculture or tourism.

There are also common denominators, particularly in the good management of infrastructure. Digital technology can and must make it possible to optimize everything, for example with dynamic management of lighting, waste, energy, traffic, a better knowledge of the territory, and above all the crossing of data and information generated, for a better vision of the whole.

Is this city of the future concept feasible in terms of technology?

This city of the future is already there via many initiatives, in Switzerland and abroad. Just look at the projects of Singapore or Sondgo in South Korea, the technological breakthroughs of Silicon Valley, or even closer to home the cities of Lyon and Dijon.

That’s why we invite foreign cities every year to Smart City Day, to offer inspiring approaches. French-speaking Switzerland is lagging behind on the subject, and the challenge is not so much technological, but rather organizational. In the digital age, what model of development do we want for our cities? We need to build our own vision.

Do you have concrete examples of significant progress in this area?

A media example is the test of autonomous shuttles; we understand very quickly how technology and digital can create new models of development. There are many other less visible projects that really make sense, such as the Territorial Information System Initiative in Geneva (SITG): public partners have set up a platform to coordinate, centralize and disseminate largely the data relating to the territory.

At the level of connected furniture: Crans-Montana has just acquired new connected streetlights allowing a better management of the lighting, with cameras and loudspeakers. Technologies intersect and connect, with better management.

How is the smart city positioned in the face of the energy transition?

The theme of energy is clearly central in the development of smarter cities, it is one of the most advanced topics. The Cité de l’énergie label is an illustration of this, the position of energy delegate is one of the nuts and bolts, and the energy transition was voted on by the Swiss people.

What is missing in the field of the smart city is the equivalent: a reference person for the digital revolution, for digital transversal projects, data management and other related topics. This would catalyze many initiatives. Another comparison: in the economic sector, many large companies have a “Chief Data Officer” position.

What would be the place of citizens in these cities of tomorrow, highly automated and robotic?

As a “consumer / producer” of services, digital makes it possible to develop a more horizontal economy, as illustrated by AirBnB, Uber, BlaBlaCar, etc. I am deeply convinced that the same trend is developing for the citizen, who could then reclaim his space, his neighborhood, his city. Automation helps optimize processes and make the whole system more efficient.

As a citizen, what is again the most important is to build our vision: what do we want as the city of tomorrow?

How are open data and data essential for these smart cities?

There is currently a very strong open data dynamic among our French neighbors: the state has legislated to encourage cities to take a stand. We see many projects set up, and that of the city of Dijon will be presented at Smart City Day.

This helps foster the emergence of an ecosystem and develop its own community. It is to set up an environment, a fertile ground for urban and digital innovation, and to stimulate the development of a smarter city, as well as the economy and the creation of territorial values

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